On Homosexuality, Pope Francis’ comments, our Church teachings and our Priests

Regarding homosexuality and priesthood, I just have a simple answer to that.

If heterosexual people choose priesthood as their vocation in life, they have to abandon all sexual desires with the opposite sex and any kind of relationships henceforth all their life. So, the same too must apply to homosexual people who choose priesthood as their vocation in life.

It is really simple, but the problem is, many people, regardless whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, they cannot let go, and they give in to the temptations of the devil.

Yes, I agree that “I am not the one to judge”, and indeed, we must love the sinner, but not love the sin. The Church stance remains the same, and the teachings remain the same.

It is that we must not discriminate against those who may seem to be different, but what is important is that, we must make sure that all priests, no matter what orientation they have, must be pure and 100% focused on the Lord in celibate life, without any attachment, be it to the same or opposite gender, since the day they enter the seminary, the day of their ordination, till the day the Lord calls them back into His embrace in heaven.

It is a great sin, to turn one’s back to the Lord and embrace the devil, once he had committed himself fully to the Lord, and became His bride, in the sacred ordination, the moment when the priest is wed to God and His people, to be their servant, to be the leader and shepherd of God’s people.

So yes, sexual abuse by priests is no no, and no to married priests either, regardless of the needs of the diocese, and no to any sexual acts or perversion by priests whatsoever, with anyone, after they had committed themselves and made that choice.

If they cannot commit themselves 100% to the Lord, till the end of their life, then they cannot be priests. Priests are always tempted daily by the devil, but they must persevere. That is why it is so important for us to pray for our priests and support them!

And make sure to inculcate from early on the love for God and His people in our children and our youths, that if there are those who choose to follow the path of a priest, they will have a solid faith and rock-solid foundation, that will help them better to fight the assaults of the devil.

Remember that the Lord Himself had said that in the parable of the two houses, that a wise man builds his house on a solid ground, while a fool builds his house on sand, and when the wind and waves come and blow on them, only the one with solid foundation will remain standing. Therefore, our priests and our potential future priests too must always ensure that they have strong foundations, that is strong and unassailable faith in God, that no evil can shake and topple.

World Youth Day 2013 Rio de Janeiro in numbers (Official)

Official figures for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (WYD 2013)

3.7 million people attended the Closing Mass at Copacabana Beach
3.5 million people attended the Vigil with the Pope at Copacabana Beach
600, 000 people attended the opening Mass of the World Youth Day 2013 at Copacabana Beach
The total contribution by tourists and pilgrims during the event reached US$ 1.8 billion
1.2 million people attended the Welcoming Ceremony for the Pope at Copacabana Beach
2 million people attended the Via Crucis at Copacabana Beach (the Way of the Cross)
427,000 registered pilgrims
175 countries represented by the pilgrims from all over the world
356,400 pilgrims registered with accommodations
356 400 vacancies available for hosting family homes and institutions (vacant unregistered spaces)
72.7% of the visitors and pilgrims visited Brazil for the very first time
70,000 downloads on the official website of WYD Rio2013 (http://www.rio2013.com/en)
Over 200,000 hits on the site’s official WYD Rio2013 (http://www.rio2013.com/en)
More than 1.1 million Facebook likes on WYD Rio2013 site (http://www.rio2013.com/en)
10,000 downloads in the official WYD Rio2013 Flickr site
644 bishops registered (including 28 cardinals) for WYD 2013
7,814 priests registered for WYD 2013
632 deacons registered for WYD 2013
6400 journalists accredited to cover the WYD to 57 countries
264 places of catechesis, in 25 languages​​
60,000 volunteers helped out in WYD 2013 Rio de Janeiro
More than 800 participating artists from Central Acts
100 confessionals were exhibited at the Fair Vocational and Largo da Carioca
4 million Communion host produced for the whole WYD 2013 event – 800,000 for the Closing Mass alone (insufficient for the actual 3.7 million people attending)
345 tons of organic waste and 45 tons of recyclables during WYD Rio2013 (10% less than that recorded in the New Year celebration of Rio de Janeiro)
55% of the public enrolled at WYD are female
60% of the public enrolled at WYD are between 19 and 34 years (young adults and late teenagers)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, Christ reminded us in the readings, how precious is the Lord to us, how wonderful is His kingdom, that is for us to inherit as eternal reward, if we remain faithful to Him who always loves us. The Kingdom of God is truly a precious and priceless gift to all, that everyone should indeed focus their attention on, as in the allusion made by Christ, that the kingdom of God is likened to a precious and top-quality pearl, so much so that one should sell all they have, just that they can own that wonderful and beautiful pearl.

So beautiful and perfect is the entire glory of God, that as stated in the first reading today, when Moses talked to the Lord face-to-face in the fullness of His glory and majesty, he would be bathed in His perfect and wonderful light, such that his face became the countenance of the Lord Himself, brilliant and radiant like the sun. Such was the glory of God reflected on the face of Moses, that he was compelled to hide his face by the means of the veil, so great is such glory that no one but Moses was allowed to see.

Our Lord Jesus Christ too was glorified on the mountaintop when He was transfigured from His human persona, and revealed the fullness of His glory and majesty. He revealed Himself to Peter, James, and John who were present at His Transfiguration. In that event too, we saw the same thing that had happened to Moses, in how Jesus Himself was transfigured into a figure of perfection and brilliance, except that the light itself came from Christ Himself, not because it was a reflection of God’s glory and majesty as in the case of Moses.

Why is this very important, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we listened to the word of God on how Moses faced God face-to-face? And why I mentioned Christ and His Transfiguration? That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been made in the image of God, that is our very face and countenance is a reflection of the very image of our God, the Creator Himself. We have the face of the Lord, but yet, we are not perfect as the Lord is perfect.

We were once perfect, in the early days of creation, when Adam and Eve still walked the Gardens of Eden, when they were still pure and without blame. After they had followed the devil instead of the Lord, they had lost sight of the treasure that the Lord would have given them for eternity. Mankind would have had no need to suffer, the suffering that is because of our sin and our rebellion against the Lord. Yet, we are the most beloved ones of the Lord, created in His own image, and He loved us still even after we had been corrupted by the sins our fathers had committed. That was why He sent Jesus Christ to the world, that man may be reunited once again with Him.

In our world, the devil has many tools to steer us away from the true path towards the Lord. There are many things that he can use, in order to continue his subversion of mankind, just as what he had once done to Eve and to Adam. He offered Eve the knowledge of things good and evil, and the tempting suggestion that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would make her God’s equal. These are the same things he can utilise in our world today, to make us falter in our journey of faith.

We must set our focus right, on the true treasure that is the Lord and His love, and not be distracted by the false and temporary treasures of the world, such as wealth, properties, pleasure, and many other thing this world offers us, and our world offers us as things that we should all pursue. It is not that it is wrong to have money, wealth, and pleasure, because it is perfectly fine for us to have these, if these would help us to live in our increasingly challenging world. We do need money and worldly goods to be able to live on and survive.

What is important is that we do not become distracted by them, that we lost track of our real treasure, that is God. So precious is this wealth to us that we all should be motivated to seek it, and the wealth and treasures we have in this world should be directed to help us to obtain the real treasure. We do not have to go to the extent of selling everything in order to get that true treasure, but certainly, we need to put in effort in order to gain our true treasure and reward in God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the priest and founder of the Jesuit order, the largest religious order and movement in our Church today, of which our current Pope, Pope Francis, is a member of. St. Ignatius Loyola was born in Spain to a family of noble, who inherited much wealth and affluence in the society. St. Ignatius Loyola was destined to be a great knight and noble, and participated in much activities that the nobles used to do at that time.

St. Ignatius Loyola was born to a life of privilege, to a life of wealth and sufficiency, with all the things that all of us surely would have craved for. He was brought up to be a knight, seeking valour and fame through all his activities, seeking ever greater fame as he grew up, participating frequently in battles and duels in order to gain more fame and power. Yet, as he progressed on through life, he grew unsatisfied by these ‘treasures’ that he had.

St. Ignatius Loyola eventually left all that he had and abandoned the inheritance, the fame, and the glory he had once had, and instead, became the knight of Christ. Therefore, he no longer served himself, his own ego, his own pride and glory, but instead he gave it all to serve the Lord our God. Christendom then was in great turmoil, with people leaving the Church to the Reformation heresy every day. More and more left the Church tempted by the devil and his tools in this world, those who rebelled against the Lord and His Church.

That marked the beginning of the Jesuit order, which was first established by St. Ignatius Loyola and several of his companions. The Jesuit order rapidly grew and spread throughout Europe and Christendom at the time, combatting heresies and evils of the world, converting many back to the true faith, and stemmed the tide of destruction caused by the Reformation. The Reformation itself might have had good intentions, but in its implementation, it was a disaster for the faith, for God’s people, for the Church of God.

That was what the Jesuits, under the leadership of St. Ignatius Loyola was trying to combat and fight, in the Name of the Lord, which was the reason behind their name, that is the Society of Jesus. They, who had found the true treasure in God, and truly treasure this treasure, the priceless treasure, sought to ensure that others too can find their true treasure that is the Lord our God, and not to be misled by the devil into the chasm of damnation in hell, because of their heresy and transgressions against the true faith, as was rampant during the time of St. Ignatius Loyola.

The Jesuits are still active today, and together with many other religious orders, they work to continue the good works started by St. Ignatius Loyola and many other saints, so that more and more souls may be saved and prevented from falling into the traps of Satan. The hard work by St. Ignatius Loyola and his successors ensured that many are saved and received their true treasure in God, their eternal reward of everlasting life in the bliss of heaven.

We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, can do our part to bring more souls and indeed, ourselves to the Lord and His salvation, by ensuring that we keep our focus right, that is to focus ourselves on the real treasure that is the Lord our God, and do not become distracted by the world and all its temptations. Instead, let us use whatever graces and blessings that had been given to us, in wealth and other things, that we may use them as best as possible, to help us to achieve the real treasure of our lives. May St. Ignatius Loyola intercede for us that the Lord will always keep us strong in our struggle against evil and keep us in His embrace and favour, always, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 13 : 44-46

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. The one who finds it buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who is looking for fine pearls. Once he has found a pearl of exceptional quality, he goes away, sells everything he has and buys it.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (Psalm)

Psalm 98 : 5, 6, 7, 9

Extol the Lord, our God; worship at His footstool. Holy is He! And mighty!

Among His priests were Moses and Aaron, and Samuel among those who called on His Name. They called to the Lord, and He answered them.

In the pillar of cloud He spoke to them, and they kept His statutes and the decrees He gave them.

Extol the Lord our God; worship at His holy mountain. Holy is the Lord our God!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, Priest (First Reading)

Exodus 34 : 29-35

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with two slabs of the Statement in his hands, he was not aware that the skin of his face was radiant after speaking with YHVH. Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw that Moses’ face was radiant and they were afraid to go near him.

But Moses called them, and Aaron with all the leaders of the community drew near, and Moses spoke to them. Afterwards, all the Israelites came near and he told them all that YHVH had commanded him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

Whenever Moses went before YHVH to speak with Him, He took of the veil until he came out again. And when he came out and told them what he had been commanded, the Israelites saw that his face was radiant. Moses would then replace the veil over his face until he went again to speak with YHVH.

My Prayer Intention for Tuesday, 30 July 2013

1. For the autistic special school student I have met on the train today. May the Lord watch over you and protect you, that you will not meet harm in this world as you progress through life. May the Lord show you kindness and heal you from your afflictions. May He also be with you and your family through the difficulties of your life.

2. For teachers and my fellow mates in the institute for teacher education I am studying in now. May the Lord be with all of us, and protect us, and bless us as we embark on this learning journey together for the next one year or so. May God who is loving embrace all of us with His love, comfort us whenever we are down and sorrowful, and give us new hope whenever we are in despair. Accompany us at all times, o Lord.

3. For victims of religious persecutions all around the world. May the Lord be with those persecuted for their faith in Him, and free them from the hands of their enemies. May He also bring enlightenment to the hearts of those who hate the people of God, that they will learn the truth and turn their hearts towards the Lord. Let there be no more persecutions of the faithful, but let all mankind return to the Lord our God.

4. For families of the people of God. May the Lord keep the love burning in each families, and may the fire of that love never be quenched out. May the Lord bless the families, especially the children with abundant blessings, and plant the seeds of awareness of the need for families to remain in love and unity, and also having good communications with one another, in each and every members of the family.

May the Lord receive our prayers and listen to our petitions, just as we hear Him in the silence of our hearts. May He send His angels to protect and care for us, and may His saints constantly intercede for us sinners still walking in this world. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to Jesus explaining the meaning behind the parable of the weeds and the sower which He had told to His disciples and the people of Israel. He told them that the fate awaiting the wicked ones is death and eternal suffering in hell, while the fate awaiting the righteous ones is eternal joy and bliss in heaven, with our Lord, reunited in perfect goodness and glory of God.

The seeds of the weeds spread by the devil is the evil and corruption he had spread in this world to lead mankind astray from their path towards the Lord. The seeds of evil are greed, wrath, hatred, lust, jealousy, despair, arrogance, and pride. They are our weaknesses that made us prone to fall into the damnation reserved for the devil and his fallen angels, the fate of the weeds. This is because, as we all know, weeds are dangerous, because they compete with the healthy plants for nutrition, and when the weeds grow large, they also may likely strangle the healthy plants and kill them.

The same therefore is bound to happen to all of us, if we do not take precautions against the devil and his mischievous tools, all the tools in the world that he possesses to be employed against us, the beloved children of God. The devil is the sower of the evil weeds of sin, that if we are not careful, will grow within us and around us, and choke the good that is in us, turning us from the path of salvation into the path towards doom.

Our Lord and God, as Moses had said in the first reading we heard today, is a merciful and loving God, One who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and compassion. He is sure to welcome us back into His embrace if we are to be repentant and truly regret our sins and our wrongdoings before Him. We must not be shy to admit that we have sinned before God, because He is our loving Father, and He wants to rescue us from certain death.

But He is also a jealous God, a God who is just and against any form of sin. That is because He is perfect goodness and sin is corruption that had marred our perfection ever since the times of Adam and Eve, when Satan tricked Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and disobeyed the Lord in the process. It is because of our disobedience that we deserved death, and Adam and Eve deserved death and annihilation, and yet God showed them mercy and although they were punished to live in great difficulty on earth, they were not annihilated.

Death did claim them and our ancestors in the end, but death would not have the final say. That was because the Lord Himself gave His all so that we may have a new hope for eternal life in Him, to return us to our true inheritance, as what God had originally intended for us at creation. He did not desire us to suffer or die, but He wants us all to live, forever with Him in the bliss of heaven, to spend all our time in the beautiful Gardens of Eden.

He sent us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the fulfillment of His long-awaited promise, that He would send a redeemer to all mankind. The ultimate proof of His love and care for us. So great is His love that He is willing to suffer in our place, to die in our place, and to be our light of hope. He is the light of hope and salvation, because He did not remain in the land of the dead, but by the power of the Lord, He broke free the chains of sin and death that had held us for generations, and risen from the dead He became the source of salvation for all who believe in Him.

We must sow the seeds of faith, of hope, and of love in our hearts, brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we will be ever ready to combat the seeds of evil that Satan and his cronies always try to sow within our hearts. Do not be afraid, for he no longer has any power or authority over us, ever since Christ broke that bond that enthralled us to the evil one. We must however remain ever vigilant and ever careful, lest the devil successfully subvert our thoughts and our hearts to be against the Lord and His will.

Let us strive to be the wheat and not the weeds, and may the seeds of faith, hope, and love that is within us grow strong, that they become the nutrients and fertiliser that help us, the wheat to grow strong and bear much fruits, that the Lord who sees us, will be pleased and He will then tell His angels to come and collect us from amongst the weeds and bring us to Him, to enjoy forever His grace, His blessings, and His loving embrace.

Today, brothers and sisters, we also commemorate the Feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, who was made a Bishop of Ravenna in the ending years of the Roman Empire during the early Church. He was well known for his inspiring speeches and preaching, that called all Christians to be faithful to God and defend themselves against any form of heresies that threatened to corrupt their soul and their true faith in God.

At the time of St. Peter Chrysologus, at the heyday of the Roman Empire, there existed numerous heresies of the faith, many of which were really serious threat on the unity of the Church and the faithful, and some of them had ideas diametrically opposite to the truth of the Apostolic Fathers, the truth that is of Christ. Many of them, corrupted by the seeds of evil, the weeds planted by the evil one, subverted the words of the Lord and the message of salvation to serve their own ends, and ultimately, serve the cause of evil.

Many people fell victim to the corrupting nature of these heresies, which attacked the truth about our faith in the Lord, in the Lord Himself, and even His Blessed Mother, Mary. St. Peter Chrysologus, as the then Bishop of Ravenna in today’s Italy, was faced with the same problems and challenges that faced the Church of his time. Yet, he did not waver nor did he become afraid to confront those challenges. Instead, he faced them courageously, and with great zeal and inspiration, through his sermons, he converted the faithful back to the truth of Christ, getting rid of the weeds that choked the life out of the faith of the people of God.

Today, my brothers and sisters in Christ, the need is ever greater for more people like St. Peter Chrysologus, in defending our faith and ourselves, from the corruption that comes from Satan. We must be courageous in standing up for the Lord in the face of the devil and bluntly reject all his approaches and his temptations to us. We must stand up for the Lord and His love, His compassion for us. Never let go of the Lord and embrace evil, no matter how difficult the challenges of life are. We must always be strong, as St. Peter Chrysologus had been.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today renew our commitment to God, to the Lord who loves us, to God who cares for us every day of our life, and commit ourselves to glorify His Name among men, and to never give in to the allures of the evil one, and be courageous to reject all of his approaches. May the Lord who is love and who is mercy, forgive us our sins, purify us and make us whole once again. St. Peter Chrysologus, pray for us sinners and intercede for us before the Lord our God. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 13 : 36-43

Then Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the angels.

Just as the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will weed out His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown in the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Psalm 102 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

The Lord restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.